Courtesy of Hope For Three

Jennifer Smits, a young adult from the Netherlands who connected with Hope For Three through social media in 2012, is now interning as a Notary in her homeland.

The CDC estimates one in 54 children has autism spectrum disorder (ASD or autism), a developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact.

The range and severity can vary widely and, common characteristics tend to include obsessive interests, repetitive behaviors, and behavioral challenges.

“Having autism is like looking at three TV channels, listening to the radio, and reading ten letters all at one time, with the mental assignment to read just one letter and give one response,” explained Jennifer Smits, a young adult on the spectrum.

“With the expectation to do this fast, this situation becomes chaotic, unpredictable, and threatening. It makes me angry, sad, and aggressive,” continued Jennifer, 25.

Navigating this world is another challenge, yet the reality for many individuals and the parents and caregivers assisting their children in this unchartered journey.

Organizations like Hope For Three work to raise community awareness and provide resources and support to families with children diagnosed with ASD in the form of financial aid.

The annual cost of care for one child with autism is estimated at $60,000, which is more than the minimum average household income for Houstonians at $51,203.

Over the past decade, Hope For Three has awarded more than $1.2 million in financial aid, directly impacting families, and provided resources to more than 6,000 inquiring parties.

Additionally, this local nonprofit has impacted more than 16,600 students, counselors, nurses, and educators through Teen Huddle and It’s Cool to Care programs.

A collaborative effort with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program allowed Hope For Three to train more than 2,000 members of law enforcement on the characteristics of autism and engagement strategies.

Recently, Hope For Three announced they created the first-autism-related license plate in Texas.

The plate will be available for public consumption on September 1, 2021, at the cost of $30 through myplates.com.

The nonprofit was recently selected as one of two recipients in Texas for a Federal grant in support of Kevin and Davonte’s Law, a law named in honor of two young boys that perished after wandering, sadly, both drowned. Drowning is the number one cause of death in children on the autism spectrum, and Hope For Three partners with Goldfish Swim School to provide safety swim courses to children on the spectrum.

“Researchers continue to search for the cause of ASD. Hope For Three has the privilege and honor to serve as a beacon of hope for children who need intervention resources and proper treatment; supports that can forever change a child’s future,” said Darla Farmer, Hope For Three CEO.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, Hope For Three programs, resources, and events, please visit www.hopeforthree.org or call 281.245.0640

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